Throughout life, we experience emotions that disturb or distress us. Often, our first reaction is to push our feelings away. From a very young age, we learn to bury our emotions, deny the validity of our feelings, or distract ourselves with other concerns. Stuffing down emotions is a cultural norm. But the diverse emotions we experience are neither good nor bad-they are simply a part of being human. Choosing not to experience pain, anger, or other intense feelings could cause those feelings to become buried deep into our physical body. When we deal with our feelings directly, they can move through us rather than staying stopped up in our body as emotional blocks that can sometimes turn into disease. Acknowledging our emotions, instead of pushing them away, allows us to stay emotionally healthy and live our personal truths without contradictions.
As one of my mentors said in her book Truth Heals: What You Don’t Say Can Hurt You,
“Telling the truth is about freedom. It is about joy and peace and health and living a life that is meaningful, powerful, connected, and loving. Ultimately, telling the truth is about feeling good in your own skin, unencumbered, free, and having the life that you want to live. So why do lies so often seem nicer, tidier, easier?
The truth is often uncomfortable—because so much shame and guilt are attached to it, because it has been suppressed and left unspoken for years. The truth is a force of such magnitude that it demands to be known, one way or another. If buried, the truth will push its way to the surface. Denial or suppression of the truth will manifest as ill health, dysfunctional relationships, or financial problems. The truth does not remain silenced or suppressed comfortably. It may take a lifetime, but the truth will win out. As any good detective will tell you, even dead men tell tales.”
Healing emotional pain can bring some of the greatest rewards in life, bringing a sense of lightness and freedom. In order to have a fulfilling life, complete with a healthy body and relationships, we must own our emotions. They are a natural part of us and need to be experienced fully and then let go. To be truly strong and joyful, we have to live in truth. Journal writing helps us do that.
Yes, you heard me correctly… journal writing. Did I just lose you? Did you just think to yourself…”I don’t have the time, patience, energy, courage, or clarity to start a journaling practice”? Well, take a big breath, give yourself a hug, and think again. Journaling can awaken self-awareness and help heal emotional wounds. Journaling is a simple but powerful way to get in touch with your feelings and recover your authentic self. When you give it your honest and heartfelt attention, your journal becomes a safe place to release negative feelings and discover buried truths.
Your journal doesn’t need to be hard work. You do not have to write a novel. You can start with writing a single word or sentence on the page. You do not have to edit or perfect it as this is for your eyes only. You are simply trying to capture the truth of what you think and feel. The more freely you capture words, the better. Give yourself complete freedom to write.
Be completely truthful in your journal. Say it like it is. If you’re angry, be angry. Write it out uncensored. The point is to be authentic. When you can trust yourself to be truthful on the pages of your journal, you can trust yourself to be truthful in the world. Just watch how your whole body relaxes as you express your truth.
Here are a few guidelines for getting the most out of journaling:
- Do it daily. Like brushing your teeth, create a habit that ensures good emotional hygiene. Get the old energy out, and then keep up the practice to prevent new toxins from accumulating.
- Use pencil and paper or keyboard and computer; both are equally effective. Your goal is a stream of consciousness, which will come about merely by using your body (your hands) to communicate.
- Be honest. Practice rigorous honesty about your feelings no matter what they are. It’s time to honor your emotions and this is the place to do it. Don’t hold anything back.
- Don’t edit or judge your writing. You are trying to tap into your deepest feelings, not create a perfect composition. You’re doing something important for your well-being, and that requires letting the thoughts and feelings flow uninterrupted.
- Keep your journal safe. Make sure it is tucked away in a secure place so you have the privacy you need to be honest with yourself. To be uninhibited in your journal writing, you need to know that it won’t be subject to the scrutiny of others.
- Share only if you want to. If there is a trusted friend, therapist, or other loved one with whom you want to share your writing, by all means do so. Revealing your truth to another person, who then gives you unconditional acceptance, will increase your ability to process out the energy.
- Be committed to the truth. Use your journal as a self-healing tool for your personal growth, self-improvement, emotional health, and physical well-being.
The goal is simple: to get to know yourself better. Telling the truth about your life is the first step toward healing and releasing your emotional and physical pain.